7 Home Libraries That Will Make Your Jaw Drop

Someday, when I have my own house, I will have my own library.

That is 100% non-negotiable. Even if I have to build a whole wing onto the house it’s going to happen.

So in the meantime, why not look at some of the best home libraries out there for inspiration?

My dream library really looks like this:

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Now I just need a millionaire to kidnap me in return for my father, fall in love with me, and give me a whole library. 

But for those of us who would prefer not to be kidnapped, here are 7 libraries to inspire.

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For when those pesky books won’t fit on the first level of your office. (via)

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Circles everywhere, and a chandelier to top off the super class. (via)

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For when you need to cram your books in every nook and cranny. (via)

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For savoring books with caviar and brandy. (via)

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That spiral staircase really adds something, doesn’t it? (via)

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When in doubt, make a rainbow bookshelf! (via)

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Feel like you’re reading outside without braving the elements. How much better can it get? (via)

What’s in YOUR dream library?

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Book Review: The Fault in our Stars by John Green

So, I wrote this review a while back, right after The Fault in our Stars was released. Since then I’ve read the book twice more. That probably says something…

Here’s the Goodreads synopsis, where it has an average reader rating of 4.51 stars (!) out of 5.
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

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I sat down to read The Fault In Our Stars at three in the afternoon, just getting up to do laundry and eat dinner, and only with hesitation. I finished it at eight-thirty. And oh, what an eight-thirty it was.

There’s a kind of tranquility to be found on the last page of any book. If it’s good, the last line bears a kind of bittersweet resonance — the story is suddenly over; you maybe sit there for a minute to think, then go on with your life, that’s the last word on the subject. I guess The Fault in Our Stars was not so different from this experience. I read the last line, turned to a blank page, and thought, “oh.” I was so engrossed in the story that I didn’t realize it had ended. I went back to re-read the last two lines and decided right there and then that despite their ambiguous finality, they were perfect. John Green knows how to use the power of simplicity.

That simplicity isn’t only in the last lines of the book. One of my greatest secret pleasures in a book involves the quietest sentences and smallest words. Forget sweeping story lines or far-off settings; the things which make me silently revel in a story are the tiniest ones. Small snatches of beauty permeate this story as if stolen from some writerly world which only the chosen few can inhabit. John is like a master puppeteer; with the slightest twitch of the wrist he can move the tone to his whim, inserting these pieces of beauty in the most unexpected of places.

The plot behind Augustus and Hazel sounds like your typical cancer-ridden coming of age story, but that’s where the commonplace stops and the extraordinary begins. They’re teenagers who just want to live out normal teenager lives, though it’s established quite early that this just isn’t possible. They handle these sickness-surrounded lives refreshingly, way beyond the typical “Why is this happening to me?” Instead, they learn to accept the sickness to the degree that anyone can accept lungs slowly drowning in liquid, and try to live out the lives they have left in whatever way they can. Augustus especially has a strong voice in this sense; his wonderfully nonchalant attitude, as if cancer is a bug on the bottom of his shoe, fills his character out even though we, the readers, know that can’t be all that goes through his mind as he watches his life and the lives of those surrounding him fall into a resigned chaos.

Most of the characters in TFiOS speak with John Green’s signature voice. Smart, somewhat wordy and often critical of standard society, they make their thoughts known through poetic observations hidden by a screen of teenagedom. They may speak similarly, but the thing is, I really don’t mind. That doesn’t mean they’re without individual character. The wonderful thing about these characters is their acute observations that are so incredibly human. They speak plain truths in a way that molds truth into a kind of worldly grace. That being said, some people take issue with John Green’s characters, saying that they’re too smart for teenagers or they all talk the same, an argument that I can understand. It’s the kind of thing that you have to read for yourself to make your own judgment on.

In case my slightly vague descriptions weren’t clear enough, I’ll put it in simple terms: I freaking love this book. John Green has a very specific writing style, and with some of his books I have a “pick up once and never pick up again” kind of attitude. I can already tell it’s different with The Fault in Our Stars. I can tell you this: this book makes you think without sounding condescending. It speaks in remarkable terms of humor and grief. It pushes you into a world where ordinary people do ordinary things that feel just a little bit like falling in love. And when you reach the last line of the last page, you’ll feel as if you finally understand why it’s not so much the fault in our stars we should pay attention to, but the choices the stars have given us.

Shakespeare and Company

Last summer I went to Paris. I won’t wax eloquent about the cathedrals and the croissants and the fashion, because I’m sure you’ve heard all that.

But let me tell you about my favorite part of Paris. My favorite part is the Shakespeare and Company bookstore, a tiny, cramped, two-story old-school bookstore crammed to the brim with the best book selections on the face of the Earth.

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The best part for some of us foreigners: all of the books are in English. Check out their charming website!

It took us forever to find it. We walked all over the bank with the thought that it would be there any minute, but it was only through a chance sighting on my part that we found it on our way back to our rented apartment. And later, when I set out to find it on my own, it must have taken me at least an hour to find it again (although to be fair, my inner compass says North is South and South is North). It’s hidden away, but that adds to its charm. It’s an unexpected surprise that finds you itself, instead of you finding it.

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Although the shop is tiny, I could have spent hours there. The shop has old-world character and has the best old-book smell one can imagine, even though many of its books are new. Part of the experience also involves the awkward dance to get around fellow bookstore browsers in the packed store. And each book you buy gets the certified Shakespeare and Co. stamp.

The rumor is that Shakespeare and Co. was legendary in the 1920s, and one could find Pound,  Hemingway, or other famous writers lurking there. I’ve also heard that the owner lets writers stay there for free in return for a few chores.

If only I spoke fluent French; I would work there in a heartbeat. Ah, well. Maybe next time I go to Paris I’ll claim a spot  as a writer and sleep surrounded by books.

Book Review: Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

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Hello readers! Here is, as promised, your review of Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas, as voted on by Dumblebee users! I reviewed the other book with equal votes, I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak a couple weeks ago. Want to help me decide what to review next? Go here!

Odd Thomas is about a man whose name actually is “Odd”. He can see spirits who have not moved on (including Elvis, who makes a hilarious cameo once in a while) as well as evil spirits called bodachs, sightings of which never bode well. Odd has accepted this curious gift despite its annoyances, though only a few people know of it, including the wisecracking police chief. When a man comes to town bringing slews of bodach appearances with him, Odd soon discovers that his whole beloved hometown is in danger and sets out to protect it as only he can.
I have mixed feelings about Odd Thomas. The first thing that jumped out at me was the writing style. Full disclosure: I’ve never read anything by Dean Koontz before. Maybe his style takes some getting used to, or maybe it just doesn’t work for me? Koontz tends to go out on small tangents, detailing every last phrase. While these tangents can be entertaining and witty, I just kept on wishing for him to get on with it already.
That being said, there are some truly funny parts inserted here and there in the novel.
Like this:
“…sometimes you have to listen to your heart.”
“I’ve listened with my heart for so long I’ve periodically had to swab the earwax out of my aortal valve.”
Or this:
“’Swordfish tacos with extra salsa, fried corn fritters, and a large Coke, please,’ I told the sombrero-wearing donkey that holds the order microphone in its mouth…I took [the chief’s] advice and placed a double order with the donkey which, as before, thanked me in the voice of a teenage girl.”
So Koontz is funny, in that smart, wordy kind of way that’s very conscious of what he’s doing.
The plot picked up about halfway through the novel for me; when someone is threatening to end the world, or at least a whole town, you kind of have to pay attention. Poor Odd clearly cares about the people around him in small-time Pico Mundo, including his kickass girlfriend Stormy who stubbornly comes along for the ride. It took me a while, but I did start to care for these characters, despite their strange way of talking. They’re only trying to save their hometown, after all.
Would I recommend this book? I’d say give it a try. I think it’s one of those books that will either work or it won’t. So I guess you can’t know unless you give it a try!